Top Spots For Salads In Philadelphia

September 7, 2012 7:00 AM

(Credit: Chelsea Karnash/CBSPhilly)

Sometimes, you just need a BIG SALAD. Here’s where to find a variety of the freshest veggies, protein, fruit, cheese and more, all mixed up in a (mostly) healthy bowl of deliciousness. –Chelsea Karnash

This veggie newcomer has been a huge hit in the City of Brotherly Love, receiving tons of press and rave reviews for its wide selection of healthy vegan food. While the Arugula Taco Salad currently has the most street cred (Philly mag voted it the best salad in the city in their 2012 “Best of Philly” issue), there are four other tasty options to choose from, including the Asian-inspired Udon Noodle Salad and the Jerk Caesar Salad, a Caribbean take on the traditional Caesar. Just FYI: If you’re getting delivery, be sure to order the dressing on the side to avoid sogginess.

If you’re on a diet or trying to stay on top of your health, Pure Fare is a must-try Philly spot. With a slew of interactive web tools on their site and a commitment to being “100% transparent” when it comes to ingredients, this Rittenhouse area organic food outpost has a list of salads a mile long. In fact, it’s actually really difficult to pick just one. From the traditional Greek salad or the Grilled Tuna & Spinach to more exotic offerings like the Naked Falafel or the new Papaya Barbecue, Pure Fare will keep you coming back to try ‘em all. The best part? The nutrition info for every single menu item is listed on the website and broken down by calories, protein, fat, carbs, sodium and fiber. Good to know…even though you might not want to, you know, know.

Older siblings in the massive empire of restaurants that Stephen Starr has given birth to (there’s a mental picture), the Continental is still doing a lot of things really well. One of those things is salads. The Crispy Calamari Salad, with bitter greens and soy dressing, is a standout mix of fresh veggies, lightly-fried calamari and tangy dressing. And the Bibb & Blue, a prettier take on the wedge made with Bibb lettuce and marcona almonds, will leave you full and feeling like you actually ate something remotely nutritious. But if neither of those two options interests you, never fear: There are five other entrée salads to choose from, and they’re all good.

While known for wine, cheese and beer, Tria’s three locations also offer fresh and interesting salads that are reasonably priced. My personal favorite is the Mission Fig and Gorgonzola Dolce Salad with mixed greens, pine nuts and balsamic dressing, but the Smoked Duck salad and the Oak-Roasted Salmon Salad are also good choices. Make sure to hit up one of their “Sunday School” events, too—they’re a great intro to wine, cheese and beer tasting for an equally great price.

At this Rittenhouse Square restaurant, barbecue is king, but my go to is actually the Alley Salad. A delicious, summery plate of roasted veggies, mixed greens, goat cheese and fresh corn-off-the-cob tossed with red-wine vinaigrette, this salad is especially yummy with grilled chicken (and a side of grilled sweet potatoes!). If you prefer something heartier and less “salad-like,” try the Smoked Chicken Cobb or the Crispy Fried Calamari salad. And if you’re there on a day when the fried oyster salad is on the specials board, consider yourself lucky—it’s cornmeal crusted heaven.

For some of the most amazing salads around, you’re going to have to head outside of the downtown area to Roxborough. While Casselli’s is a cash-only, mom-and-pop Italian spot that’s decidedly lacking in ambiance (picture wood paneling and a giant replica swordfish that still had a wreath on its, um, sword in mid-July), the food continues to bring me back in weekly–sometimes twice a week. Oddly enough, I often forgo the excellent pasta (mmmm, paradiso sauce…) in favor of one of the restaurant’s “special” salads, which rotate weekly and include in-season ingredients (apple, pear, mango, jicama, eggplant, etc) coupled with spring mix or romaine and some sort of nut and cheese combo. These salads are huge, fresh and filling, and whoever pours the dressing is borderline genius–I’ve never had a soggy or under-dressed plate of veggies yet.

And if that week’s “special” salad doesn’t interest you, order the Casselli’s Salad with roasted peppers, mozzarella, spring mix and onions topped with frizzled onions, or the Mediterranean Caesar with grilled shrimp, olives, romaine, onions, shaved parmesan and freshly made Caesar dressing. I’m not even a Caesar person, but this is easily the best one I’ve ever had.

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